Some thoughts on Arkansas Junior High All Region music for saxophones...
First, let's look at Williemakeit Blues. A few things to note about the piece:
The most important thing, and the most commonly ignored, is how to articulate swing 1/8th notes. As the key area exercises now used in Arkansas All Region indicate, the basic idea is to slur from the "and" to the beat, which means you lightly tongue all of the "ands" and none of the beats. Sometimes the line will need an extra articulation or slur, and in real-world charts these are generally not indicated.
Tonguing every swing 1/8th note is practically never done. Don't do it, don't teach your students to do it, and don't expect it in the audition room. This is even true if the exercise/chart does not have any slur marks at all.
Why "practically never done?" Because we're talking about a very expressive form of music, and there are no hard and fast rules. So take things like "never" and "always" with a grain of salt.
How can students practice this articulation? First, they need to listen. Glenn Miller's In the Mood is easy enough, and most band libraries will have the chart to read along. Learning to play along with the intro is an education in itself. Feel free to sub in your favorite swing recordings. Advanced saxophone students will get a lot from listening very closely to Charlie Parker then playing along. Ideally, by transcribing the solo themselves, but reading out of the Omnibook is a great way to help your ears guide your articulation and sense of swing.
Note length, accents and dynamics
As I noted earlier, Brian has done an excellent job of marking these stylistic considerations. Note the F# (I'm looking at an alto part) on the and of four in bar two. The crescendo is not just an artistic license taken by the composer; it is actually appropriate and nearly universally expected when reading this rhythm, even if not marked. The only thing missing here (again, in my opinion) is and accent mark on the F#. In swing style, accent any entrance that happens on the and, or beat two or beat four, and forte piano - crescendo through any held notes.
Now, let's look at the quarter note on beat three of bar three. This housetop accent is also stylistically appropriate, even if not marked. This marking means accented with space before and after the note. Note: this does not mean the note is short! Think DAHT, not dit. The length of quarter notes is not always the same, but playing a quarter note on beat one or three with this articulation is a good place to start. If you are playing in a big band, it is the job of the lead trumpet to dictate the length of these notes.
On to bar five, beat four. The composer has again notated an articulation that should be assumed in this situation: legato on the first 1/8th note, staccato on the second. In swing style, 1/8th notes followed by a rest are to be played short and accented.
Next post: Improvisation
I play saxophone.*